Breach of care and negligence claimed in residential facility for elderly (RCFE). $2M. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Elderly Parkinson's patient, a man with a long and distinguished corporate career, receives care that violates Patient's Bill of Rights in residential care facility.

The Case

  • Case Name: Milton Glass et al v. Whills LLC, et al
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC615714
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, November 14, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, April 01, 2016
  • Type of Action: Breach of Contract, Elder Abuse, Negligence
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Huey Cotton
  • Plaintiffs:
    Milton and Renée Glass
  • Defendants:
    Whills LLC
    Harold Bermudez, administrator of Fairwinds West Hills
    Leisure Care LLC
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $2,000,000
  • Net Verdict or Award: $1,000,197
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    At the close of plaintiff's case  a nonsuit was obtained on behalf of defendant Bermudez as to all causes of action.

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 50% to Leisure Care and 50% to their shell corporation.
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 weeks.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 6 hours.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendants' motion for JNOV - denied by court.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Office of Marilyn M. Smith by Marilyn M. Smith, Pasadena.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Lewis Brisbois by Kathleen Walker and George Nowotny, Los Angeles.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Linda Handy, RDT, Title 22 regulations and provision of modified diets in assisted living.

    Peter-Brian Andersson, M.D., neurology. (Treating physician.)

    Bruce Jacobsen, M.D., internal medicine/geriatrics. (Treating physician.)

    David Stern, M.D., geriatrics. (Treating physician.)

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    None.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Darren Trisel, assisted living facility standards.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Alysha Loumakis-Calderon, assisted living facility standards.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Prior to moving to the defendant facility, Milton and Renée Glass, a devoted couple of 68 years, their daughter, and their primary physician were completely transparent about Milton’s diagnosis of Parkinsonism. He presented in a wheelchair during each of the 40 hours the family spent in the “selling zone,” hammering out the specifics of Milton’s time-specific needs for basic assistance with ADLs – showering, toileting, transfers – plus his prescription diet, the provision of which is mandated by the state of California under Title 22 regulations.

    The facility was aware that Mr. Glass had a private caregiver working 40 hours per week, plus strong family support. Each and every detail was fine-tuned and agreed upon before the contract was signed. Having these services was critical to his proper care, peace of mind, and ability to thrive. They took him as he as he was and told the family to have no anxiety about adequate staffing and training specific to Parkinsonism.

     

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiffs alleged pervasive and continuous violations of Title 22 as well as Leisure Care LLC’s own Policies and Procedures. It became apparent immediately after move-in that Fairwinds could not and would not honor the contract. Breaches to the Residents Bill of Rights were frequent and retaliatory including a bait-and-switch threat to withhold services unless the Glasses procured an unnecessary hospital bed, or agreed to switch to 24/7 private caregivers. The defendants had agreed to provide services on a time-specific schedule and they did not comply with their agreement. They also agreed to provide a mechanical soft diet as per state regulations and physician’s order, but they did not do that. They required the family to guess which foods were mechanically soft and/or modify the food themselves in unsanitary conditions.

    When the family tried to enforce the terms of the contract, the defendants doubled-down to try to get them to leave. Engaging in subterfuge, and in clear violation of the contract, this organized campaign included threats to withhold caregiving services, failure to provide the prescribed diet, conducting secret reassessments of plaintiff’s condition as a pretext to eviction, hiding the reassessment from the primary physician in violation of Title 22, and ultimately serving an improper eviction notice for which they were cited by Community Care Licensing. The family worked tirelessly with their attorney and their ombudsman to mitigate any concerns, but these interventions did nothing but ratchet up the tension.

    On April 1 2015, Mr. Glass slid from his lift recliner to the floor. He was uninjured. Mrs. Glass called for assistance to get him back into his chair. The facility called 911 without informing the residents or responsible party. At least five first responders and three Fairwinds staff members filled the room to assess Mr. Glass, during which time the fire captain locked Mrs. Glass out of the room when she strenuously objected to the idea that he might be taken to the ER against his expressed wishes. Police were called and caused Mrs. Glass to be chemically and physically restrained, and detained on a 5150. She was released within hours as there were no grounds to hold her.

    Mr. and Mrs. Glass suffered post-traumatic stress, mental suffering, anguish and humiliation as a result of this ambush. Mrs. Glass also suffered permanent wrist, shoulder and knee injuries in the melee. Defendant used that incident as additional ammunition to try to evict both residents. They claimed Mr. Glass could no longer feed himself, however photographic evidence presented in court proved otherwise. Once properly reassessed in the clear light of day, Mr. Glass was found to be in at his preadmission levels and the eviction notice was rescinded. The facility also failed to comply with state regulations regarding maintaining the premises including allowing faulty smoke alarms to cacophonously false-alarm for months at all hours of the day and night, failing to repair malfunctioning call pendants in a timely manner, failing to properly repair appliances, doors and heavy window blinds, one of which fell on and permanently injured Mrs. Glass’ shoulder and wrist.

    Leisure Care, LLC. is the 18th largest operator of assisted living facilities in the United States. Plaintiff contended that Leisure Care set up a shell corporation for each of its facilities and then claimed that they were not part of the contract for services and therefore could not be liable on breach of contract or negligence.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    The defense denied all claims.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $1,500,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $325,000

Additional Notes

Milton Glass was Chief Investor Relations Officer of the Gillette Company and Chairman of the Board of Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts. He and his wife Renée were lifelong pro-bono volunteers in community and civil service, the arts, education, and health and patient advocacy, founding Jaw Joints & Allied Musculo-Skeletal Joint Disorders, Inc. in 1982. They both served in the United States Army. Their lifelong body of work has been recognized in Who’s Who in the World.

Per defense counsel:

At the close of plaintiff's case  a nonsuit was obtained on behalf of defendant Bermudez as to all causes of action.

There were 7 verdicts decided by the jury:

1) Negligence - plaintiff verdict 

2) Breach of Contract - plaintiff verdict 

3) Elder Abuse - neglect - defense verdict 

4) Elder Abuse - financial- defense verdict 

5) Negligent Misrepresentation - defense verdict 

6) Fraud - defense verdict 

7) Invasion of Privacy - defense verdict 

Altogether, there was 1 nonsuit, 2 plaintiff jury verdicts and 5 defense jury verdicts. The defense verdicts resulted in no award of punitive damages or attorney fees.

Defendants filed post trial motion for JNOV and Remititur challenging the $1.5 million awarded to the Estate of Milton Glass. The court granted the Remititur and reduced the jury award of Milton Glass to $500,197.

Post trial motions reduced the total verdict to $1,000,197.

Plaintiff also brought a post trial motion for attorney fees of $1,142,420 which the trial court denied .

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

© Copyright 2021 by Neubauer & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. www.juryverdictalert.com